Forgotten Thames Champions by Caitlin Davies

By jen kavanagh, senior curator of contemporary history on 9 Sep 2015

Three years ago, when I started researching Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames, I thought it would be quite a short book. After all, how many people would want to swim in the Thames?

Margaret White – training in Leigh swimming pool, 1961 (Courtesy of Margaret White-Wrixon)

But I soon realised that bathing in London’s great waterway used to be the norm, that river racing reached its peak in Victorian times and that now, with the Thames the cleanest in living memory, there has been a real resurgence in ‘wild swimming’.

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